Leadership by Alex Murray

A leader leads by example not by force” – Sun Tzu

A leader? What is a leader? I thought a leader was someone who was bossy and ‘in control’ of the whole situation but after visiting Skye I realised that was not the case. A leader is someone who – as said by Sun Tzu – leads by example not by force.

It was Monday, the plan was to go on a day walk to talk about our personal values – respect, perseverance, confidence. We were told to write our values on white stone and carry them with us to the top of a hill.

Respect. What is it? Would I like to be respected? Yes. Respect is the fundamentals of a society, treat someone the way you would like to be treated, right?  I respect people, I treat them the way they want to be treated. I listen, I talk, I help. I like to show respect because I find it helps me understand people. When i respect someone, I know what they feel like and it makes me confident when I talk to them. I was beginning to respect these people (not that I didn’t respect them before) after the day walking activity. This activity really helped me to understand people as a whole – talking to different people about their lives and their values really helped me. I wasn’t much of an emotional but after the activity and getting to know the people I felt like I could just…understand them more than normal. To show how i have this respect i go out of my way to ask teachers how they are and if I see them in halls I said “Hi” or give a small smile, I do the same with my peers, If I see someone I know, I’ll wave to them or give them a high five.

Confidence. I am confident when I’m talking to people that I know but, when it comes to strangers I shy away and don’t talk much. Skye changed that; I can talk to total strangers for long periods of time like I had known them for years. I was able to do this after some of the activities in Skye, especially when we all got together and held the ‘talking stick’ and said something we learned about our day, it made me more confident in front of people that i didn’t know too well and people that i already knew. One of the things I said when holding the stick was “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again” – another famous quote, but this time by William Edward Hickson. (It’s cheesy and cliché but so was I) With this confidence I went on to do assemblies in my school about Columba 1400 in front of my year group and the year below me at the time. Again, using my newfound confidence I started going to youth groups and getting to know more truly unique and amazing people that I wouldn’t know otherwise.

I am ambitious, I know this. I want to go to Oxford University which means I need 5 A’s and some special trait that I can bring. Thousands of people apply every year to get into Oxford and not many people get in, I am the only person in my family who has had dreams of going to such a prestigious place of education, this is why my ambition is important, my ambition is controlled, I’m not some power hungry man like Macbeth (or woman like Lady Macbeth), I know when to stop. This is what makes me want to apply for such a university. I want to achieve, there’s nothing wrong with that and I don’t need to hurt people to do so. I can be successful without being power hungry or overly ambitious. We know where it started, but when? Search and Rescue. This activity really made me ambitious as I wanted my whole team to win, we had to find a dummy concealed in a mushy grass-land area at the bottom of a cliff. I was walking down the side of the cliff with Mr. Shaw who told me “look on the bright side of life and don’t think of the bad things that can happen.” And that’s where it begun, I started thinking more positively, differently. It felt like something up there had just clicked. I became happier and started to go down the cliff faster and start searching the grass hastily for the dummy. Within two minutes we found the dummy and I called everyone over to help create a stretcher to lift it back up the cliff. It was a hard task but also very rewarding as we managed to win.

So, what is a leader? A leader is someone that does the right thing for a group, like make a hard decision that could ultimately help. I believe I’m a good leader, I’m not too bossy – only when I need to be – and I also get people to listen and do what they have to do to contribute. That is why I want to become a teacher. It will take all of these skills. Confidence, respect, ambition etc. I want to help people and get to a happy place, a place void of all negative thought, a clear conscious where they can focus on the task at hand. Upon further reflection I have realised that Skye is not the most important event to happen in my life, I am only 15, I have many, many years left of my life where I can do more things like this. 

Personal reflective essay by Alex from Coatbridge

Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.

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